Davis re­leased, but judge bars her from with­hold­ing mar­riage li­censes

The Star (St. Lucia) - - INTERNATIONAL - By Jason Hanna, Ed Payne and Cather­ine E. Shoichet, CNN

Kim Davis broke down in tears, then beamed as she stood be­fore a cheer­ing crowd af­ter her re­lease from jail on Tues­day.

The Ken­tucky clerk, who was held in con­tempt of court for re­fus­ing to is­sue same-sex mar­riage li­censes, urged her sup­port­ers not to give in.

“Thank you all so much. I love you all so very much,” she said. “I just want to give God the glory. His peo­ple have ral­lied, and you are a strong peo­ple. We serve a liv­ing God who knows ex­actly where each and ev­ery one of us is at. Just keep on press­ing. Don’t let down, be­cause he is here. He’s wor­thy.”

Davis, who said is­su­ing the li­censes would vi­o­late her con­science and go against her re­li­gion, plans to re­turn to work in Rowan County, Ken­tucky this week and won’t re­sign from her post, at­tor­ney Mat Staver said. Asked by a re­porter whether her stay in jail was worth it, Davis smiled and nod­ded. But she didn’t speak di­rectly about the case, and a key ques­tion re­mains unan­swered: When she goes back to work, what will she do when she gets there?

The judge who is­sued an or­der re­leas­ing her Tues­day at­tached a caveat Davis may not be will­ing to ac­cept.

U.S. Dis­trict Judge David Bun­ning or­dered that Davis be re­leased from jail -- five days af­ter he sent her there -- say­ing he was sat­is­fied that her deputies ful­filled their obli­ga­tions to give mar­riage li­censes to same-sex cou­ples in her ab­sence.

But Bun­ning’s new or­der says Davis can­not in­ter­fere with her deputies is­su­ing mar­riage li­censes to all legally el­i­gi­ble cou­ples. That means Davis could find her­self be­hind bars again if she does any­thing to pre­vent the mar­riages from tak­ing place, CNN Se­nior Le­gal An­a­lyst Jeffrey Toobin said.

“If Ms. Davis stops them from is­su­ing li­censes, then we are right back where we started,” Toobin said. “And Judge Bun­ning has made it quite clear, he will lock her back up.”

Davis pre­vi­ously said she will not au­tho­rize her of­fice to is­sue mar­riage li­censes to same-sex cou­ples if her name re­mains on the cer­tifi­cate. Bun­ning’s or­der makes no men­tion of re­vis­ing the li­censes to ac­com­mo­date Davis, who says is­su­ing a li­cense with her name on it would vi­o­late her Chris­tian con­vic­tions against same-sex mar­riage.

One of Davis’ at­tor­neys said Bun­ning hasn’t re­solved any­thing.

“We’ve asked for a sim­ple so­lu­tion—get her name and au­thor­ity off the cer­tifi­cate. The judge could or­der that,” Staver said.

Staver didn’t di­rectly an­swer ques­tions about whether Davis would stop same-sex cou­ples in her county from get­ting mar­riage li­censes when she re­turns to work.

“She loves God, she loves peo­ple, she loves her work, and she will not be­tray any of those three,” Staver said. “She’ll do her job good. She’ll serve the peo­ple ... and she’ll also be loyal to God, and she’s not go­ing to vi­o­late her con­science.”

Bun­ning or­dered Davis to jail last Thurs­day af­ter find­ing her in con­tempt of court for re­fus­ing to is­sue mar­riage li­censes to gay cou­ples in Rowan County af­ter June’s U.S. Supreme Court rul­ing le­gal­iz­ing same-sex mar­riage.

Af­ter Bun­ning’s or­der, five of her deputies agreed to is­sue mar­riage li­censes in her ab­sence. The Rowan County clerk’s of­fice be­gan do­ing so last Fri­day.

A lawyer who rep­re­sented same-sex cou­ples seek­ing mar­riage li­censes in Rowan County said on Tues­day that the plain­tiffs’ goal had “been achieved.”

“This case was brought to en­sure that all res­i­dents of Rowan County, gay and straight, could ob­tain mar­riage li­censes. That goal has been achieved,” said Wil­liam Sharp, le­gal di­rec­tor of the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union of Ken­tucky. “The Ken­tucky At­tor­ney Gen­eral and coun­sel for Rowan County have said the mar­riage li­censes are valid. We are re­ly­ing on those rep­re­sen­ta­tions, and our clients look for­ward to pro­ceed­ing with their plans to marry.”

The case has be­come a po­lit­i­cal light­ning rod, draw­ing at­ten­tion from sev­eral Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial hope­fuls, even though Davis is a Demo­crat.

At Tues­day’s rally, Davis was flanked by her at­tor­ney and her hus­band. For­mer Arkansas Gov. Mike Huck­abee em­ceed her the­atri­cal ar­rival at the event, in­tro­duc­ing her to cheer­ing crowds as the song “Eye of the Tiger” blared.

Huck­abee said he had a mes­sage for the judge who sent Davis to jail last week and or­dered her re­lease on Tues­day. “If you have to put some­one in jail, I vol­un­teer to go. Let me go. Lock me up if you think that’s how free­dom is best served,” Huck­abee said. “Be­cause folks, I am will­ing to spend the next eight years in the White House lead­ing this coun­try. But I want you to know I’m will­ing to spend the next eight years in jail, but I’m not will­ing to spend the next eight years in tyranny un­der peo­ple who think they can take our free­dom and con­science away.”

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz also trav­eled to Ken­tucky to meet with Davis but he was not part of the pro-Davis rally that ap­peared on live ca­ble tele­vi­sion.

Gover­nor Mike Huck­abee with Kim Davis.

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